AppyParking: Harrogate smart parking scheme set for extension after trial success
Harrogate's smart parking scheme looks set to be extended until at least 2023 after positive results from a two-year trail.
AppyParking - which uses sensors to give app users a real-time map of available spaces - was said to be the first of its kind in any UK town when it was launched in 2019.
The app allows motorists to pay for the exact minutes they are parked and now looks set for an extension after figures showed there is strong support for it to be made a permanent solution with 93% of users saying they found it easier than pay and display.
This is according to a report to a North Yorkshire County Council meeting on Friday which also says there has been a boost to the economy with some users spending up to 50 minutes longer in the town.
Jon Savage, project manager at the county council, said in the report that given its success there is a recommendation for AppyParking to be extended between two to four years in Harrogate and that it could also be introduced in other North Yorkshire towns.
He said: "Smart parking is more convenient for the customer, increases dwell time in Harrogate town centre and enhances its offer.
"The recommended option to put in place a smart parking provision on a medium-term basis maintains delivery of the identified benefits and enables planning for a longer-term, scalable solution."
There are more than 2,200 sensors with a lifespan of 10 years installed at on-street and off-street parking bays in Harrogate but it is only proposed to extend the scheme for an initial two-year period because of plans to end North Yorkshire's two-tier councils.
By 2023, the county council and seven district councils could be abolished under government proposals to hand over control of all services including parking to a new unitary structure.
Mr Savage said the planned changes have caused "uncertainty" over the future of how parking will be managed and that a review of AppyParking would be needed at a later date.
At Friday's meeting, councillors will be asked to support the proposed extension before Harrogate Borough Council will look to appoint a new contractor to run the system at an estimated annual cost of around £18,000.
Councillor Don Mackenzie, the county council's executive member for access, said he hoped councillors would support the scheme which he described as a "great success".
He said: "AppyParking is convenient for users but also for us as the local authority as it means we don't have to go around collecting as much cash from ticket machines.
"The great benefit to users is being able to visually check if parking spaces are available even before they reach Harrogate, plus it can all be booked and paid for from inside the car.
"Anything that can make parking more convenient is always good news for the town."
Councillor Mackenzie, who represents the Harrogate Saltergate division, also said the scheme had shown parking remained a priority for the council as it pushes ahead with other plans to support cycling and walking.
He added: "We always encourage people not to bring their cars into town if they are taking short journeys but we also understand the importance of having parking spaces available.
"North Yorkshire County Council clearly supports active travel schemes and projects like the Gateway transformation but nevertheless I still hear what businesses are saying in that around 90% of their customers travel by car.
"We have to have these arrangements in place for this, especially for people who are travelling long distances."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter